Metal Hammer (UK)
All Hail SOLID STATE
Georgian metalcore crew wrest triumph from turbulence
it seems pretty odd that, in a world where hardcore is becoming increasingly big business, Norma Jean’s output from this decade has become little more than a footnote. Both 2013’s Wrongdoers and 2016’s Polar Similar should have been seen as modern classics for the genre. Each record is comfortably as good as anything any hardcore band have put out in this current period, yet neither seem to be mentioned in the same breath as the latest, hyped-up darlings of the scene. Add to that, three-quarters of the band that created Polar Similar have vacated their positions in the band since its release.
Listening to All Hail, you could be forgiven for thinking the band themselves are more than a little pissed off about their current situation, because, even though Norma Jean have always dealt in technically wild, uncompromisingly heavy music, this is definitely a step up in terms of extremity from those previous two albums. The opening one-two punch of Orphan
Twin and [Mind Over Mind] sets out the album’s stall, veering from a deep, tar-thick, almost doomy crush to grooving, face-melting metal and erratic passages of noise over the course of both tracks. The fact that they come in at under the five-minute mark combined will give you some indication as to Norma Jean’s intentions to trim the fat here.
There is far more than just all-out intensity on All Hail,
though. As ever there are moment of melodic nous and some disorientating experiments with different sounds. The apocalyptic penultimate track Anna, which bubbles away surprisingly by taking its nods and inspiration from shoegaze, early US indie and post-rock before reaching boiling point, is the prime example here. On the absolutely huge Safety Last, vocalist Cory Brandan sings ‘I’ll burn every bridge in the world’, which seems oddly prophetic given their line-up issues. Regardless of how choppy the waters have been for the band personally, Norma Jean are on a potent run of form. ■■■■■■■■■■
FOR FANS OF: Every Time I Die, Palm Reader, The Ocean STEPHEN HILL